Bourdainism: Lakbay Rizal 2016

*Last Friday I joined my first field trip in years and went to a couple of museums in Rizal with my home org DLSU PILOSOPO.  Thanks for organizing this trip and being a part of this day, everyone! 😁


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all four stops of the day

Passing down the paintbrush
After taking out breakfast at McDonald’s Taft at around 7 in the morning and roughly two hours on the road, the urban highways and billboards took a change in scenery into smaller houses with large plantations at their backyards. We made our first stop in Blanco Family Museum in the humble and colorful town of Angono, the Art Capital of the Philippines. Large statues of fish, carabao, and other local symbols were spread throughout the streets of the municipality home to national artists Botong Francisco and Lucio San Pedro, Angono is also home to three generations of a family of artists.

From patriarch Jose Blanco, who never attained formal training in the arts, to his seven children, who all started painting under his guidance and instruction at the tender ages of three; they built this gallery from the ground up to house the family’s works and to commemorate his works. They managed to produce highly professional traditional paintings, all sharing the Filipino’s way of life as a common subject matter, preserved usually in oil on even some larger than life pieces. Taking cue from the greats like Rembrandt, they captured aspects of local culture, history, and their individual experiences using techniques in classical art in great detail.

Jose passed on his work ethic to his children and their children, since then solidifying the value of perseverance and a love for art. With just the foundational principles of primary and secondary subjects, dark to light contrasting, and color temperatures, they explored and developed their methods throughout time; however, always maintaining Filipino still life as a strict theme to treasure national culture.

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Thea, Yan, Kat, Carlos, ze artist, Christian, Doc Bebs, Amanda, Ridge, Keira, me

Mythos and minaluto 
We found ourselves taking shelter from the light noontime drizzle at Nemiranda Art House just a few minutes away. With its dark wood interior built from old recycled materials like bamboo and old church debris, hundreds of hand painted figurines and paper mache art hung from its ceiling to its walls. With little cobwebs, dust, and anting-anting adding to its eerie charm, the place is an acquired taste. Its floors are wood alternating from lovely old colorful tiles lining the entire place and some of its parts are under constant reconstruction. More importantly it houses bits and pieces from its founder, Nemiranda’s collection, a forerunner in Imaginative Figurism. Known as the House of Myth, the art depicts mystic legends and local folklore.

Just down the street, almost like an extension of the previous museum was Balaw Balaw Restaurant, which doubles as a restaurant and gallery serving local dishes. With two orders of the speciality dish, Minaluto, which was good for 8 and just enough for 14 hungry stomachs, we feasted on a platter of four kinds of rice, topped with a variety of ulam all laid out on a large banana leaf. Satisfying our sweeter cravings over glasses of refreshing green mango, buko, and calamansi juice, the lunch was a simple yet significant meal in celebration of Angono’s food delights. (Except for the part where three hungry, large cats joined us for lunch and if you know me well, I’m terrified of cats 😓 so I ate in a bench away from the rest of the group huuhuu)

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lovely view of the contrast of hilly Antipolo and Metro Manila~ something I’m not quite used to as I usually see the opposite: city skyscrapers with silhouettes of far off mountains~ & the afternoon’s purple overcast

Green, white, photogenic
About half an hour into Antipolo until we entering the gated estate and cactus-vine walled property where the instafamous Pinto Art Gallery was located. “You wouldn’t think we’re in the Philippines anymore,” my classmate whispered to me holding up her camera. I beg to differ because the place (I keep referring to it as an estate haha) has hispanic Filipino influences even in its predominantly white architecture. It just seems like a getaway from the dirtier, not well maintained spots Filipinos are accustomed to, but with great care and sufficient funding, it’s a no brainer that more places could look like this. The gallery gained its popularity over Instagram in the last two years, as one of Metro Manila’s most photographed and frequented dating places. I, on the other hand, was glad to have spent my first trip here with classmates and girl friends who were just as interested in the aesthetics of the place.

Well photographed and even better to visit in person especially on an overcast day, the museum houses a large range of local art with well landscaped gardens and greenery. We even spotted a prenuptial photo shoot taking place that afternoon and I couldn’t help but feel bad for the bride-to-be’s gown dragging all over the soil. After two and a half hours of nonstop picture-taking, we had our merienda in the cafe beside the museum shop and the margherita pizza to share is all I can recommend.

By half past 4 in the afternoon, we headed into the van and bid Rizal goodbye. Surprisingly faster than the anticipated Friday afternoon traffic flow, it was a sleepy ride back to home base in Manila. It was nearing a violet sunset😍, a good local art-filled day when I woke up on a little jam on Kalayaan bridge and got off a gas station to head home.

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Bourdainism: Taipei 2015

*I look up to Anthony Bourdain, hence “Bourdainisms” are my adventures and travels consisting of people, places, food, culture, and experiences out of my usual comfort zone.


Over a month ago, I went to Taiwan with my family and here are some tidbits about my trip. 

Frankly I’m not the biggest fan of Chinese food especially Taiwanese cuisine other than Din Tai Fung chains, because it’s either too bland, too oily, or it’s just not my cup of… yang chow fried rice, but this trip’s meals were really good.

As tourists we’ve all been tricked into eating in overpriced restaurants, but travelers seek to taste things outside of the typical menu of xiao long bao and assortments of dumplings. Take walks around the city. Neon signs and bustling cues and crowds will always lead you to where the locals eat. Where have the old people been going to eat? Where do the youngsters go?

Night markets without fail are always fun for shopping and food tasting. But food carts by the side of streets, parked beside motorcycles and trucks, as well as simple eateries that look like they’ve been around for decades are also without fail an eating experience.

My favorite traditional Taiwanese comfort food has got to be the fried dough dipped in warm soy milk, called youtiao. I could eat that breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between! I also get another cup of fresh soy milk to go, this time over ice. It’s like your Chinese Starbucks with only one homemade drink in the same shop at the corner of the street, prepared by the same people that have been getting up at 5 in the morning to knead pastry dishes all their lives. Okay, it’s not like Starbucks, but it’s worth the extra block and cueing up for.

I also have a lot more photos of sushi, just sushi, and more Japanese food than anything else, which gave a lot of people on Snapchat the impression that I was actually in Tokyo or Osaka, haha. And if you know me, you know I’m not the biggest sushi eater, but ever since I tasted the sushi (what an accomplishment for non-sushi-eaters) in the Japanese restaurants in Taipei, I’ve craved it since!

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Soy milk over ice, Sushi buffet, Youtiao, 1/16th of continental breakfast haha, Grocery finds, Standard milk appreciation photo, Local pastries, More fresh sushi, & Bitter gourd or ampalaya shake

A little history lesson for anyone wondering why I’m eating sushi all the way in Taiwain. Well after the Chinese-Japanese war, Japan occupied Taiwan in the early 1950s and have since maintained working relations and a strong influence in its culture today, especially in the capital seat of Taipei. From the abundance of imported Japanese goods in department stores to all-day Japanese buffets people wait in line for, the “peaceful people” left behind more than just kawaii shopping districts and delicately prepared fresh sashimi.

Taiwanese today are very mild-mannered and respectful. They’re also very disciplined, the kind of people that literally stay behind the yellow line or in between a carefully drawn out path for the next set of passengers to give way to those alighting the platform.

There’s a harmony to their civic-mindedness that’s distinctly similar to how I’ve pictured Japan from what I’ve read and heard, and I feel like I’m the ball of eagerness that’s disrupting their flow, taking pictures here and there.

Got allergies after my daily photowalks around the city but there's no better way around than by foot

My allergies hit on the third of my daily photowalks around the city but there’s no better way around than by foot, so it’s all good and there was a breeze

A huge part of why I enjoyed my trip is because of the boutique hotel we stayed in. Who doesn’t like hotels? But this one’s probably one of my favorites. Other than fast wifi and the Japanese-style toilets (buttons, sprinklers, and a system more updated than my laptop), there’s a coffee shop I can be left in for hours or days even, and I wouldn’t mind.

It’s also where we have our continental breakfast buffet (almost Jordan Peele level of awe), which is the only motivation I have to get out of a fluffy white bed. 6 in the evening is happy hour during which they serve wine, crackers, and cheese. Other times of the day, they offer snacks and sweets. Two words: chocolate & unlimited hot chocolate! 😊 Alright, those were five words for five times the love. Also why I walked down to the lobby in my PJ’s and startled a few people. But I didn’t mind cause the goal was to get to the hot chocolate machine.

In the same lounge, they have a mini library of coffee table books and I enjoyed every one of the six or eight that I read and browsed through. I wish I had more time or that I could’ve taken them home with me. There was no better alternative to spending an afternoon with sniffles and a gross pile of used tissue, reading about the history of toy trains, Barbie, and rare photographs of Amish towns.

Goofy in the city

More random shots and milk tea! Can’t go to Taiwan without drinking milk tea

Speaking of libraries, we took the bus at around 10 o’clock in the evening, to the famous 24-hour bookstore. To tell you the truth, it was a little bit of a disappointment. However, stationery heaven waited at the basement, but I decided not to get anything even if I wanted everything (again, notebooks and journals) because it was pricey. The other floors were just books, and although overwhelmingly large, only 5% of the stocks were in English and they were really common English books.

Had the bookstore offer a wider selection of English books, then I would’ve felt the way every local felt as they perched on every step and corner of the aisles, flipping through pages till the wee hours. I envied their bliss getting lost in infinite pages for an infinitely longer period of time, while I found myself just completely lost in translation in this forest of a library. But it was a sight to see anyhow.

Taipei is a melting pot of Asian influences and the old and the new. Small dilapidated town homes and shops sit in front of a skyscraper backdrop. In every street there’s something new being built or brewing with a 21st century city grind and craft morning ground; however, the streets are still tainted with a unique brand of Taiwanese culture and portions of Chinese history that waft the city. There’s still a lot I want to see and I wonder how Taipei will be in a couple of years. Till then!

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A selfie with a Comme des Garçons head wrap in Sogo showing off my freshly snipped hair then. And I didn’t buy the wrap nor a tee cause they didn’t have it in my size